In a nutshell:
A summary of the new rights that carers are entitled to:
- Carer/Care assessments
- Working rights
The Care Act which came into force in April 2015 brings significant changes to the way social care services are delivered, including new stronger rights for carers to get support.
We know how difficult and complicated it can be to get what you are entitled to and it is not surprising that millions of pounds of benefits go unclaimed every year. To help you know more about what support you may be able to receive, we’ve pulled together some key information including your benefit rights, rights to carer assessments and the rights to flexible working.
What you have the right to claim for
This guidance is a brief introduction to some of the main benefits and other forms of financial help that you may be eligible to receive.
Carers’ benefits often include:
- Help with council tax including exemptions, discounts and benefits
- Attendance allowance and disability living allowance for the extra costs incurred because of a disability
- Housing benefit for your rent
- Income support and pension credit for daily living expenses
- Health benefits for NHS costs
- A carer’s allowance and carer’s premium if you are looking after a disabled person
To qualify for a carer’s allowance you will need to satisfy the below rules:
- You must be 16 years old or over
- You must look after someone for at least 35 hours a week
- The person you look after must receive a qualifying disability benefit
- If you work, you must not have net earnings above £100 a week
- You must be living in the UK when you claim carer’s allowance and satisfy certain residence and immigration rules
- It needs to be the only “earnings replacement benefit” that you are applying for. If you have other “earnings replacement benefits” then you won’t be eligible for a carer’s allowance
- You must not be a full-time student
Some earnings replacement benefits are based on National Insurance (NI) contributions. These include:
- State pension
- Contribution-based Jobseeker’s allowance
- Incapacity benefit
- Employment and support allowance
- Maternity allowance
- Widow’s or bereavement pension
- Widowed mother’s or widowed parent’s allowance
Some earnings replacement benefits are not based on NI contributions. These include:
- Carer’s allowance
- Severe disablement allowance
Carers UK provides detailed advice and help in booklet form or via telephone at 0808 808 7777* on personal finances and help of the following topics:
- Carer’s Allowance
- Personal Independence Payment
- Disability Living Allowance
- Attendance Allowance
- Working age benefits
- Pension age benefits
- Benefit cap advice
- Housing benefit advice
- Bedroom tax advice
- How to challenge a benefit decision
- How to challenge a bedroom tax decision
- Health benefits
- Help with debt
- Help with your pension
- Help with household finances
- Fuel costs
- Council Tax rate relief
- TV licence
*Telephone numbers that start with 0808 80 are always free to call from your mobile. These numbers are issued by The Helpline Association for non-profit helplines.
Carrying out a community care assessment
The Care Act 2014 states that the local authority must undertake a community care assessment for any adult who appears to have any level of needs for care and support, regardless of their eligibility for support or of any support being provided by a carer. The assessment will look at:
- The personal care needs of the person you are looking after and their thoughts on how that care should be provided
- If there is a carer, their views on the care needed, including the level of care they are willing and able to provide
- If there is a risk to their independence and wellbeing if their needs are not met. For instance, risk of falling or leaving the gas cooker on
- The outcomes that matter to the person – for example, whether they are lonely and want to make new friends
Following the assessment, the care provided by you and any other carers will be discussed, listing the duties you are willing and able to provide. Your local authority will record the duties you have decided to manage and therefore they do not need to provide support in those areas. However, should you choose to change your mind or later say you can no longer provide some or all of the care, the local authority can then refer back to the record and provide the assistance required.
Carrying out a carer’s assessment
You have a legal right to an assessment of your own needs. It’s really important that you look into this, as it is your chance to discuss with the social services department of your local authority what help you need with caring.
The assessment looks at whether you are able and willing to provide care now and in the future. The assessment also considers the impact on activities outside of the care you provide such as your work, education, training and enjoying yourself, as well as your mental and physical health. You will be entitled to an assessment no matter what your level of need, the amount of care you provide or your financial status.
It is not necessary for you to live with the person you are looking after or be caring full time to have a carer’s assessment. However, you must be aged 16 or over. You can have a carer’s assessment to look at the help that you need, even if the person you look after does not want to have an assessment to look at the help that they need. You can also choose to have a joint assessment, where you and the person you care for receive an assessment together. If the person you care for does not have an assessment or if they have been considered not to be eligible for support, you can still have a stand-alone assessment.
You need to get in touch with your local authority to arrange an assessment. You can find the contact details for your local authority in the directory of local carer services on the NHS Choices website. If you are under the age of 16 the Children’s and Families Act 2014 has made sure some of these rights can apply to you too. Your local authority will undertake a young carer’s assessment upon your request or if they think you need to be assessed.
What are the services that are available to me as a carer?
Here are some examples of services that may be offered following a community care assessment:
- Changes to the disabled person’s home to make it more suited to their needs
- Equipment installed such as a hoist or grab rail
- A care worker to help provide personal care at home
- A temporary stay-in residential care/respite care
- Meals delivered to the disabled person’s home
- A place at a day centre
- Assistance with travel, for example travel to and from the day centre
- Laundry services
The Care Act 2014 allows social services to charge for services used, including those services available to you as a carer. However, you cannot be charged for services provided to the person you care for. Following a financial assessment of your needs as a carer, the following outcomes are possible:
- You may be expected to meet the full costs
- The local authority may meet the full costs
- The cost may be shared between you and the local authority
Whilst the new legislation gives local authorities the right to charge back to carers for services they use, there is concrete guidance advising why they should not. For example, if you choose to withdraw your caring role, the expense for your local authority to step in would be far more costly than providing free services to you.
How do I find out about respite care and do I qualify?
Respite care may be beneficial to you and the person you’re looking after. In some areas, respite care is provided by your local authority as a result of you having a carer’s assessment.
In other areas, access to respite care is provided through a community care assessment for the person you’re looking after. Therefore, it is best to make sure that both of you are assessed. The local authority will consider what help you need and will decide which community care services should be provided to help you.
It is important to remember that carers’ assessments and community care assessments are not the only route to qualify for or access respite care. The local authority will consider what help you need and will decide which community care services should be provided to help you.
Advice on caring and employment
Juggling work and looking after someone can be difficult. Having an understanding and knowledgeable employer or manager can help make this easier. It is helpful to have access to information and advice in your workplace, but often it doesn’t exist. Please see below our run down on the support that you are entitled to as a carer.
The right to request flexible working
If you are working in the UK, you are able to benefit from the right to request flexible working and employers have a duty to consider these requests.
The law places a duty on employers to:
- Give all requests serious consideration
- Agree to requests unless there are genuine business reasons for not doing so
There will be a policy that refers to these rights, so it is worth asking your human resources department for their advice and guidance to help you.
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